New Hampshire Moves to Allow Pharmacists to Provide Oral Birth Control Without a Prescription

NOVEMBER 30, 2017
The push for pharmacists to provide birth control to patients without a prescription has rapidly taken off across a number of states in the past few years.

While the west coast of the US is firmly engaged in expanding the practice, other states across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic and New England areas are also set to roll out pharmacists capabilities in the next year. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation highlights the perils that face women trying to access contraception, while also noting new developments that may expand access, including mobile apps and pharmacists.1 According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, examples of states offering birth control dispensing from pharmacists without a prescription include:
 
  • Oral contraception only - TN, WA
  • Oral and transdermal contraceptions - CO, OR
  • All self-administered hormonal contraception - CA, D.C., HI, MD (2018), and NM.
 
These states all differ in ages to provide services (some only 18 and over), and whether they need to see a physician before seeing a pharmacist at some time, and what products can be provided. I don't expect to see a standardized approach to all of this for some time, to be honest, and for pharmacists that may move from one state providing such services to another, make sure to check what the rules and regulations are as you may find yourself with expanded or narrowed services to offer.
 
A new player on the block is New Hampshire, who recently saw a commission appointed by the state recommend that pharmacists be allowed to provide contraception services.2 New Hampshire is proposing to follow how California is handling things and allow all self-administered products to be dispensed directly by a pharmacist.
 
New Hampshire's premise is to address the lack of access for women to see a physician or other provider to access contraception, especially in rural areas. The commission is also proposing that insurance companies would even need to provide coverage for a full years supply of contraception at a single visit as well. This is probably a benefit, especially considering other states require physician check-ups or visits, and since New Hampshire is primarily concerned with the rural access of their citizens, this may make it easier.
 
So, how long until New Hampshire joins the rank of other states allowing pharmacists are providing contraception? Based on an interview with one of the members of the commission, they are hoping to have it put to the vote in January 2018, and move on at the beginning of the year.

My guess is there will be additional training for pharmacists and CE requirements as well before a full roll-out, so probably very late 2018 or more reasonably 2019. I imagine that as time goes on, I would expect other states to adopt as well. If I had to hazard a guess, most likely the push will move westward overall, with most of the Midwest and all of New England and the Mid-Atlantic adopting these practices, and once a majority of the US has become adjusted, the holdover states will pass as well. 

References
  1. Oral Contraceptive Pills. Kaiser Family Foundation - Women's Health Policy. August 17, 2017. Accessed from https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/oral-contraceptive-pills/.
  2. N.H. Lawmakers Recommend Pharmacists Prescribe Birth Control. New Hamshire Public Radio. November 27, 2017. Accessed from http://nhpr.org/post/nh-lawmakers-recommend-pharmacists-prescribe-birth-control#stream/0.
 
 


Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
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